Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo came under fire last weekend, during the 80th posthumous birthday for Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), in which Soyinka, Falana, former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, former Kaduna State Governor Balarabe Musa, Senator Shehu Sani, Afenifere chieftain Femi Okurounmu and presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore spoke in.
The former Nigerian President was slammed alongside former military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, for pretending to be “messiahs”.
Speaking on “Democracy for the masses through proper and effective governance” which was the theme of the lecture, Soyinka and Falana who though did not name Obasanjo, said Nigeria is in danger when politicians like Obasanjo, who “supervised the sacking of democratic governments” in Oyo and Anambra states pretend to be messiahs.
“All I want to say in connection with the title of today is just one word: vigilance….There is no question whatsoever that democracy is in danger.
“And so I find it ironic that those who’ve proved themselves the enemies of democracy who’ve really taken, they’ve really committed acts, not just negligence, but actually inaugurated certain policies which contributed to our being at this point again are once again coming out and positioning themselves as saviours, as messiahs, as the sole possible rescue mission that this nation can even dream of, a nation of nearly 200 million people.
“I find it very strange, and I find it even stranger because at the beginning of this movement towards ‘rescue mission’, there were one or two organisations that came out under different names and they had people in them whom I considered worth following, worth encouraging, worth encouraging others to study closely and even consider following.
“The next thing I knew, these movements were being hijacked by the very people who laid the foundation, an ironic word by the way, for the collapse of the democratic edifice.”
“The next thing we know, they are forming coalitions and I was invited by one of the rescue missions to address them and I telephoned them and I asked the question, ‘wait a minute, which one are you? Are you the original people I saw or is there a faction or is there now a fatherly umbrella under which everybody is moving?’
“And I told them; don’t even come near me, if you’ve signed up on one of those who are the enemies of democracy in this nation.
“Those who inaugurated so-called constitutional amendment programmes, total charades, to assist them to continue to run, which has been scuttled by the direction known as tenure elongation, third term, etcetera for which the entire national treasury was almost bankrupted.”
“And suddenly, here they are they are forming coalitions all over the place, once again, confusing people.
“Who are the genuine leaders, who are those that we can trust? The answer to that is very simple: look at their track records. That’s all”.
“We’ve had presidents in this nation, some of whom inaugurated a never-ending democratic process, which landed us eventually under the most brutal dictators that this nation has ever known.
“We had others also who actually supervised sacking of ‘democratic government’; I’m speaking of Anambra, I’m speaking of Oyo State. A governor was kidnapped under their watch with their complicity; in another instance, thugs actually entered the House of Assembly, sacked the legislators and installed their own candidates; under the same watch.
“And they call themselves the God-designated watchmen over the fortunes of this nation? And suddenly, here they are and I see Nigerians flocking to them and asking them once again to lead.
“Mind you, they’ve said very clearly if it becomes a political party count me out o, but paths are already being beaten to their doors, control by subrogation.
“Even if they do not individually put themselves back in the position of power, they are already smoothening the way for their surrogates, their stooges, so that they can continue to misrule from their cosy farmsteads. So, all I’m urging is: be very vigilant. Just look closely at their records, look at the company they keep.
He urged the youth to “grow up” and take political power.
“Why can’t a new generation actually rise, throw us all out of the window and take control of their own lives by themselves? Why do we keep recycling the same jaded traitors, enemies of the people? Why do you need to go for blessing somewhere if you’ve made up your mind that it is time to take control of your own existence?
”Once again, I don’t want to be misunderstood, I know what I think about this government when voting time comes, I know exactly where I’m going to cast my vote but I’m not going to allow anybody to hoodwink me and say I will show you the path. No, this will be adding insult to injury” Soyinka said.
The Nation reported that Falana on the other hand, said;
“Our country is undergoing serious crises of governance but we must be very careful so that we do not allow those who destroyed the country, those who ruined the nation to pose as the saviour of our people.
“There’s somebody living very close to this place who has been parading himself as the saviour of our people; this guy ruled the country for 11 ½ years cumulatively – 3 ½ years under the military, eight years under a civilian dispensation. And even wanted to do a third term but Nigerians rejected him. Obasanjo was military head of state between February 1976 and October 1, 1979. He was president from 1999 to 2007.
“The guy is going round the country now, claiming to have solutions to our problems; I wish to say here and we are challenging him to name one thing that he did, any problem of the country that he solved.
“On the contrary, this guy wasted $16billion to generate darkness for the country. This guy formed and took over the resources of the country blindly under what he called blind trust.
“Nigeria is the only country in the world where a sitting president and a sitting vice-president established private universities when the government refused to fund public universities and other tertiary institutions.
“Gani went to court to challenge the extortion of state governments and contractors by a man who realised about N7billion to set up a so-called library” Obasanjo has a presidential library in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
“Under the constitution, any gift received while you are in office, other than customary gifts, is forfeitable to the state; therefore, at the right time, this country, when it is properly organised, will take over all those universities and libraries that were set up with public funds and that may be sooner than you think.”